With the mass-produced barrage of horror movies available to us – sometimes formulaic, sometimes cheaply made – it can be tempting for the jaded horror-goer to presume that nothing is truly scary anymore. I offer no new argument, after all, when I contend that in our increasingly sensationalized visual culture, we become (or at least risk becoming) desensitized to so many horrible things, immune to so much tragedy. It takes far more, at least from a visual standpoint, to scare us than it did sixty years ago (a fact that will be evident to anyone who compares The Haunting to an Eli Roth film). This may not be the case universally, but it’s a general rule. And still, scary movies are manufactured, and the passionate horror fan does encounter, every now and then, a film that is particularly, unexpectedly scary. Such was my experience with the film Sinister, released about two weeks before Halloween in 2012 (although I saw it much later ). Granted, Sinister is not as artistically scintillating as my two favorite horror movies of reference – The Shining and It Follows – but it’s still a well-made, incredibly unsettling film. When I told Michael I wanted to write a piece about it, he reassured me that he wouldn’t be upset if I re-watched it without him; one time was enough for him. So I sat down tonight, in my little Indiana apartment, with a focusing question in mind: What makes this film so scary? While I may discuss other things in the post below, I am particularly interested in exploring possible answers to this question. Continue reading “What Makes Sinister So Scary?”
Michael and I have been talking lately about the phenomenon of hating. Of course, hate is prevalent in all sects of life, and more problematic in some sects than others. But when it comes to the arts, and films specifically, people love to hate. Witness the new female-driven Ghostbusters film: it’s brilliant and funny and original, but people get this weird high off slamming it on the internet. The same goes for the Star Wars prequels: any attempt to re-visit the highly successful plot of the first three films was certain to be met with some contempt, because our proclivity to love has an opposite proclivity to hate. And I think the same observation could be made with M. Night Shyamalan. Continue reading “Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense”
Some time ago, I started a series called “Point Counterpoint.” In the first installment, Michael and his brother debated one another about the importance of grooming in a zombie apocalypse. The series then waned, as I had difficulty contriving another debatable issue and became interested in other things. Happily, however, “Point Counterpoint” has returned! In this installment, my boyfriend, Michael, of My Comic Relief, explains why he would love to be a ghostbuster and would be ideally suited for it. I then explore the ethics of ghostbusting and why I find the practice problematic. Lend us your thoughts in the comment section!
The title of this post comes from the Dave Matthews Band Song, “Two Step,” an old favorite I found on a dusty, battered but still half-working mixed CD I made in college over a decade ago. In the song, Dave sings “Celebrate we will, ‘cause life is short but sweet for certain.” Well, Dave, I agree with you, life is short, and (often, but not always) sweet, but I’m not celebrating because life is short and sweet. I’m celebrating because my little blog recently had her first birthday (yes, in case you didn’t know, Just Dread-full is a girl), and I’m gushing and bragging like any proud parent. Unlike the proud parent who thinks her baby is the best, I in no way contend that my blog is the best blog on the interweb (I’m not delusional, and there’s tons of good stuff out there) but it is a creation uniquely mine that I can share with anyone who’s remotely interested. If I’m Victor Frankenstein, this blog is my glistening, verbose, sometimes pedantic monster – only, it’s not going to skulk around my perimeter, threatening to kill me if I don’t create a mate for it (which I tried to do when I started another blog that I never post on, 1000 in a Decade).
We’ve all, I’m sure, heard the cliché “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” For example, for the fifth day in a row I hit the snooze button and expect to sleep an extra five minutes, when I know every time I use the snooze function on my cell phone I sleep for at least an extra half hour. (As in, I click the button repeatedly every five minutes – for about a half hour – after the first snooze alarm goes off). I naively think I can literally “snooze,” go back to sleep for five minutes, but to my frustrated chagrin, this is not the case. Snoozing once inevitably leads to snoozing repeatedly, but every morning (or many mornings) I fool myself into thinking otherwise. Continue reading “A Walk in the Woods: Disorientation and Pain in Blair Witch”
Any semi-regular reader of my blog will be unsurprised by my title, which is, as usual, adequately cheesy. (I just love an obnoxious title). But there is at least a scintilla of truth to the title, if you’re at all inclined to relish in life’s darker corners. Yes, The Disappointments Room is sufficiently scary, and not exactly what I expected it to be. But it is dark. If you’re looking for a classic haunted house story, you’ll probably like the film. But if you’re looking to be disturbed and depressed (because that’s everyone’s goal, right?) then you should definitely see it. I was in a delightful mood when I entered the theater. After the film was over, I wasn’t quite certain how I felt; I was lingering in an uncomfortable emotional limbo for a bit. To be sure, life seemed a little darker and more contingent. But, perhaps that’s the marker of an effective film; it changed my mood. And the darkness wore off, leaving me with the memory of a genuinely jarring cinematic experience (as in, I was rigid with discomfort throughout most of the movie). The Disappointments Room, then, is well worth the time investment. It borrows from genre elements without falling into the “tiresomely cliché” trap.
When I was in high school, a super sweet Aerosmith song entitled “Jaded” was released. Yeah, you’ve probably heard it. I used to watch the music video for it in the morning before school, back in the nostalgic, bygone days when MTV used to play (gasp) music videos. (Since I don’t have cable right now, I have no idea what they play, but last I checked, music videos had taken a back seat to painfully terrible reality TV). The Aerosmith song “Jaded,” comes to mind now, though, because I just saw a movie that I should have found genuinely frightening (on the whole, I’d say it was a good movie) but part of what I saw was just another less-than colorful, archetypal addition to the horror pantheon. Today, Michael and I sat down to watch Mama, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and while the movie was well-made and fun to watch, I was much less afraid than I thought I would be, and the film reminded me of other horror classics. Perhaps I am jaded, because that film should have scared me, but it didn’t. Continue reading “Mama Mia!”